Steam Locomotives, Train Rides in NC

New Hope Valley Railway: Guest Blog by Adam Prince

hew hope valley railroad 1New Hope Valley Railway Opens 2010 Season

By: Adam Prince

The New Hope Valley Railway is an all-volunteer excursion railroad. The East Carolina Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society acquired slightly over four miles of track and right of way from Bonsal to New Hill in 1982.  Two years later, the first public ride was offered, and they have been operating ever since.

The pride of the New Hope Valley Railway is Steam Engine No. 17.  No. 17 is a 0-4-0 oil burning locomotive that was built in 1941 by the Vulcan Iron Works.   In 1999, the New Hope Valley Railway and the North Carolina Railroad Museum purchased the steam locomotive.  After three years of restoration and repair, No. 17 was back to full power and has been a treasure to the New Hope Valley Railway and to visitors ever since.

17’s crew consists of a number of dedicated individuals that spend numerous hours working under extreme conditions.  The crew’s dedication and perserverence has paid off as Engine No. 17 will participate in the 2010 West Virginia Rails Festival in Petersburg, WV – June 25-27.

The NHVR’s Bonsal yard is more than just a home for their various cars and locomotives.  It is home to the North Carolina Railway Museum, and one of the features of the museum is a totally restored 1922 Bethlehem Steel Railway Post Office and Baggage Car.  The inside of the RPO car is in amazing condition and you can instantly imagine what is was like to work handling the mail inside the car.

The New Hope Valley runs on the first Sunday of every month from May through November.  They also run specialty excursions for Halloween and Christmas. The NHVR begins operating trains at 11 am.  They alternate between their diesel engines and No. 17 throughout the day with the final train running at 4 pm.  Costs are $10 for adults and $7 for children ages 2 through 12.

On Sunday, May 2nd, I had the pleasure to take photos of the New Hope Valley Railway’s Opening Day.  I arrived to their Bonsal rail yard early – around 9 am – and was able to walk the grounds and explore the trains.

I took a ride out on the 11:00 AM diesel.

It was amazing to see how the Bonsal yard changed from the time I arrived at 9 am to when the first train left at 11.  A typical sleepy North Carolina Sunday morning slowly transformed to an active family playground where kids of all ages were sharing a great experience.  The excitement of children when they hear the first train whistle is contagious and spreads throughout the New Hope Valley’s three passenger cars.

new hope valley rrSoon, two familiar words are spoken, “All Aboard!”  And the first passenger ride of the NHVR’s season is underway.  We travel four miles to the end of the track in New Hill.  There, the train stops as the diesel locomotive needs reverse back so it can pull the passenger cars back to Bonsal.  As the engine passes by, the operators and a few passengers wave hello to all.

After the engine has been hooked back to the cars, the conductor walks by making a final inspection.  The most popular man on the train smiles and waves to all as he walks by.

When we return back to Bonsal, the excitement gathers again.  Patrons eagerly waiting for the next run wave hello to all that are returning from their pleasant one hour ride through the woods.  As I exit the train, the attention is focused on the switching of locomotives.  The diesel engine that led us to New Hill and back is being replaced by the steam workhorse, engine no. 17.  The focus to detail of both the yard crew and 17’s crew is precise.

No. 17 is now successfully hooked onto the passenger train and is ready to make its first run down the line for 2010.

I head back to my truck and head over to Horton Road.  The New Hope Valley crosses this quiet rural residential road and is a great vantage point to catch any of the trains in motion.  Off in the distance, I begin to hear the long loud whistle of No. 17.   I hear it again, this time closer.  Soon, I can not only hear the train but feel the vibrations of its approach.  To my left and out of the woods appears No. 17.

As the train passes, the passengers waive hello and some even took pictures of myself.  Photographing the photographer…not a bad idea.

I take one more trip back to Bonsal to catch No. 17’s return to the yard.  I set up in the same place that I did two years ago where by chance my friend and I came across No. 17 for the first time.  The feeling is the same though slightly different.  Passengers waiting to board the 1:30 diesel run now share the excitement of hearing the distant whistle, the slow building roar, and the vibrations of the approaching train.

I take one last set of photos before heading home.  The New Hope Valley Railway is a treasure of not only the Triangle but North Carolina as well.  The treasure comes from the experiences on the rail yard, the train ride, and those around you.  But the real treasure comes from the numerous volunteers that spend countless hours on something they thoroughly enjoy.

Visit Adam’s awesome blog sites:
http://surewhynotnow.blogspot.com
http://carolinaxroads.blogspot.com

Visit The New Hope Valley Railroad’s website at http://www.nhvry.org!

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Tweetsie Officially Opens For The Season On April 30th!

tweetsie in blowing rock, ncTweetsie Railroad, North Carolina’s first family theme park, opens for the 2010 season on Friday, April 30th. Come join the fun!!

Source: Wikipedia

Opened in 1957, Tweetsie Railroad began as an excursion train ride aboard steam locomotive #12, the only surviving narrow-gauge engine of the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad (ET&WNC). Built in 1917 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works, #12 is a 3 ft  (914 mm) (narrow gauge) 4-6-0 coal-fired locomotive that was used to haul passengers and freight over the ET&WNC’s 66-mile (106.2 km) line running from Johnson City over the Appalachian Mountains to Boone, North Carolina. After the narrow gauge portion of the ET&WNC ceased operations in 1950, the locomotive was purchased by a group of railroad enthusiasts and was taken to Rockingham County, Virginia to operate as the small “Shenandoah Central” tourist line in 1952.

Floodwaters from Hurricane Hazel washed out the Shenandoah Central in 1954, and Locomotive #12 was once again put up for sale. Hollywood actor Gene Autry considered purchasing the locomotive to move to California for use in motion pictures.

Instead, Grover Robbins, an entrepreneur from Blowing Rock, North Carolina, bought the locomotive in 1956 and moved the engine back to its native Blue Ridge Mountains as the centerpiece of a new “Tweetsie Railroad“ tourist attraction. A 3-mile (4.8 km) loop of track was constructed near Boone, North Carolina for the train to run on, and on July 4, 1957, the locomotive made its first public trip over the line.tweetsie railroad

Tweetsie Railroad became a popular tourist attraction, and evolved into one of the nation’s first theme parks. A western town and saloon were built around the depot area. A train robbery and Indian attack show were added to the train ride, playing off the Wild West theme that was very popular at the time on television and movies. The theme was enhanced by regular visits WBTV television personality/singing cowboy Fred Kirby, who hosted a popular children’s show. In 1962, a chairlift and amusement ride area was constructed at the top of the mountain inside the rail loop, and over the decades the park has been expanded with additional rides, attractions, shops, restaurants, and special events.

One of Tweetsie Railroad’s two steam locomotives, 2-8-2 #190, on May 20th, 2007.The Tweetsie Railroad theme park is open from early May through October of each year. One of its most popular annual events is the nighttime “Ghost Train Halloween Festival” in October. In addition to the Wild West train adventure and the amusement rides, Tweetsie Railroad has a variety of live entertainment shows featuring talented performers selected from the immediate area and from the Southeast.

Tweetsie acquired another steam locomotive, USATC S118 Class 2-8-2 #190, the “Yukon Queen” from Alaska’s White Pass and Yukon Route in 1960. Built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1943 for the US Army, the engine was part of an 11-locomotive fleet of “MacArthur” 2-8-2s originally purchased for use overseas. During World War II, the locomotives were sent to Alaska for use on the White Pass and Yukon.

In 1961, Grover Robbins built another train ride and tourist attraction called “Rebel Railroad” in the Smoky Mountains near Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Renamed “Goldrush Junction” in 1966, it was sold to the Cleveland Browns football team in 1970. In 1976, the attraction was sold again to Jack and Pete Herschend of Branson, Missouri, who redeveloped it as a theme park, “Silver Dollar City Tennessee”. In 1986, country music star Dolly Parton became a partowner with the Herschends, and the theme park was renamed Dollywood to reflect her involvement.

The name “Tweetsie” was given to the original East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad by area residents who became accustomed to the shrill “tweet, tweet” of the train whistles that echoed through the mountains. The nickname stuck with the train and became more identifiable than the railroad’s actual name.

Visit http://www.tweetsie.com!

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Theme Song for The Daniel Boone Railroad – Lost Train of Hillsborough, NC

In my quest to locate the train or locomotive I used to ride as a small boy with my grandfather in Hillsborough, NC I have been able to locate many pictures and much info regarding the old engine and cars.  The story started when I posted a story and photo of me in front of the train on this forum on January 3rd something interesting happened. Click HERE for the initial post.

A gentleman from the Pacific Coast Railroad Company in California posted a comment about the engine known as “Melodia.” Come to find out, his company has the engine and operates it. I was thrilled. I had found the locomotive. I posted a follow-up story from my initial post exclaiming how excited I was to find the engine. Click HERE for the second post.

A THIRD POST was written detailing the whereabouts of one of the old engines that used to operate on the Daniel Boone RR. It sits in Florida…sadly, rotting away.

Imagine my excitement when a reader emailed me an mp3 of the actual Daniel Boone Railroad theme song. Obviously, he captured it from vinyl. I thought it would be fun to take the tune and some pictures and create a YouTube video to share. I sprinkled in a couple of other pictures to keep in interesting. Hope you enjoy it.

All we’ll ever have are memories. I would love to get any photos you may have of the old train, station or railroad line. Please email them to tarheeltrains at gmail dot com.

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Education, Steam Locomotives, Train Rides in NC

Rail Camp hosted at NC Transportation Museum

Boarding-the-train_w300Source: www.salisburypost.com

SPENCER, N.C. – More than 400 Boy Scouts will spend a busy and fun-filled weekend at the N.C. Transportation Museum during Rail Camp, Nov. 6-8. Troops will spend Friday through Sunday at the museum, the site of the former Spencer Shops steam locomotive repair facility.  

Most of the 28 troops attending this year’s Rail Camp come from North Carolina. However, troops will also be traveling from as far north as Danville, Va. and as far south as Anderson, S.C. All will learn about locomotive travel and rail transportation and earn their Railroading Merit Badge.  

Many troops and their leaders have been attending Rail Camp for several years. Dwight Creason, who leads Troop 525 from Mocksville, has attended for the past eight years. Creason’s says the scouts are able to learn a lot in a few days. “Most of them, even though they’ve read this stuff in the history books, they really don’t have a concept of it until its hands on,” he said. Creason credits the location, the former Spencer Shops, as making those lessons more tangible. “Being there on site where thousands of men worked several years ago, that’s a pretty awesome experience in itself.”

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New Hope Valley Railway – Halloween Express!!!

ghost_crew

Trains run Saturday Oct. 24 departing at 4:00PM, 5:15PM, 6:30PM, and 7:45PM with each ride taking about an hour.
Advance purchase of tickets is required.

Also – Fall Steam Spectacular!

Come ride behind two steam engines!  Enjoy a train ride behind our own Engine #17 and visiting Flagg Coal #75 through the beautiful New Hope Valley from Bonsal, NC.
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The New Hope Valley Railroad (NHV) was organized in 1904 by W. Roscoe Bonsal, Samuel O. Bauersfeld, and Henry A. London.  Bonsal and Bauersfeld were originally from Baltimore, but came south to Hamlet, NC in 1895 as civil engineers to work on the railroads then building across the South.  London was from Pittsboro, NC, and among many other achievements in his life, owned or controlled the timber rights in the New Hope River Valley.  Bonsal had been very successful in the railroad business, and by 1898, was a vice president of the Seaboard System with an almost exclusive contract to supply ties for the expansion of that railroad.

group

 

For more information, please visit: http://www.nhvry.org 
 
 
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Handy Dandy to run at 19th Annual Horse & Mule Days in Denton, NC

P7042850

October 9-10

Horse & mule demonstrations, cross cut saw contest, train rides, apple cider and making molasses. Daily admission: $7 adults; $3 for children under 12; Preschool are free. For more information contact Denton FarmPark at 336-859-2755 or visit www.threshers.com

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Two Big Railroad Festivals in NC!

Two of the largest railroad festivals in NC are this weekend and next weekend.

Picture12 First, the establishment known as Tweetsie Railroad will host its annual Railfan Weekend this Saturday/Sunday, September 12th & 13th. Tweetsie breaks out #12 (Tweetsie) and also 190 (Yukon Queen) for a double-barrelled shotgun full of fun on their historic steam locomotives. For more, visit: www.Tweetsie.com!

And if that’s not enough…Great Smoky Mountains Railroad holds its annual Railfest on the following weekend. Friday/Saturday/Sunday, September 18th – 20th will be a three day gathering for railroad enthusiasts and history buffs from around the world provides an opportunity to ride special excursions, see railroad memorabilia and experience music of the rails. For more, visit www.GSMR.comgsmr-logo-2009

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New Hope Valley Railway – Next Ride Day is September 6th!

nhv17059

Come experience the thrill of riding the rails – see, hear, and feel a part of railroad history.  The New Hope Valley Railway at the North Carolina Railroad Museum has operating days in season from May to December, with activities, themes, and events for visitors of all ages to enjoy.

Purchase train ride tickets for our scheduled operating days or you can charter group train rides, schedule operate-a-loco, or have a birthday party in a historic caboose.

The New Hope Valley Railroad (NHV) was organized in 1904 by W. Roscoe Bonsal, Samuel O. Bauersfeld, and Henry A. London.  Bonsal and Bauersfeld were originally from Baltimore, but came south to Hamlet, NC in 1895 as civil engineers to work on the railroads then building across the South.  London was from Pittsboro, NC, and among many other achievements in his life, owned or controlled the timber rights in the New Hope River Valley.  Bonsal had been very successful in the railroad business, and by 1898, was a vice president of the Seaboard System with an almost exclusive contract to supply ties for the expansion of that railroad.

For more information and to read more about the history, visit www.nhvry.org!

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Barden at the Throttle of The Handy Dandy Railroad

Triad Live Steamers’ member, John Barden, is head engineer of The Handy Dandy Railroad at Denton Farm Park. Denton, NC is located in southern Davidson County and is hope to the Annual Southeastern Thresher’s Reunion. 

John also owns and operates a Live Steam replica of Tweetsie.

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For more, visit: www.Threshers.com!

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